Funkwagon, Beyond Further, and Jaded on Rocket Shop
Funkwagon Interview by Rose Powell. Photo by Jim Lockridge.
This week on Rocket Shop I was lucky enough to meet Zach Rhodes of Funk Wagon, a group whose vibrant soul has been electrifying audiences since 2005. “It’s kind of like church with a smoking section,” says the group’s founder Aaron Burroughs. Since its inception it has gone from a three-piece set with a piano, bass and drums to a band of ten members, six of which are singers. The band sings six or seven-part harmonies juxtaposed against funky hook-heavy grooves. Zach, who I spoke with, delivers tight keyboard performances during shows while often piping in powerful solo vocals. We listened to "Been So Good to Me;" the combination of Zach’s voice, the bold organ music, and ripping harmonicas created a dance worthy groove.
Funkwagon has an album in progress right now, consisting of ten songs. Drawing from the rich gospel background of lead singer Aaron, the group mixes the “…in your face aspect of funk, like P-Funk, with gospel harmonies.” Even though Zach does not write the songs his vocals are rendered in the heartfelt style of a true gospel singer. “I try to understand every song and make it mean something to me so that it can stay real.”
To hear this groups hybrid of funk and gospel go to Reverb Nation, Myspace, or Facebook!
Beyond Further interview by Jack Haskell. Photo by Jim Lockridge.
Rocket shop was full of energy as Jake Geppert and Chris "the Nature Man" Heinz from the band Beyond Further came in to play and chat with Sam. The Manchester based band has played dozens of shows throughout the Burlington area, always bringing a fresh sound to their Dead-inspired covers and originals. Jake and Chris had just sweat their way through a midday Radio Bean show with drummer Nate Sherman. As they walked in the door, they were already warmed up and ready to go.
With Nature Man on his sweet 5-string red Fender (the nickname comes from Chris' day job as an "environmental scientist for the water consumer") and Jake on his acoustic, the drummerless duo opened up a twenty minute set with a song called "Michigan" and some insight into their style of play. "We like to cover Dead songs, Allman Brothers songs, and other stuff but most of what we play is original. We put the philosophy of the Dead into our own music, melting our jams down into nothing and then building back from there." They like playing with a framework rather than set parts for their songs so they can make them new and fun every time they play.
As the two got into the jam in the middle of their first song, it was apparent that listening was a strong suit of the band. They playfully bounced rhythms off each other and the transition back into the chorus was seamless. Chris and Jake's personalities seemed to match their style of play perfectly. Laid back, humble and groovy. All the songs matched the classic Dead feel with great harmonies in the choruses, good music for farmers' markets and parks but the band plays all different types of venues. The band will be playing in Manchester at The Perfect Wife on the 17th and at the Inn at Willow Pond on the 23rd.
The 'Rocket Shop' playlist: Beyond Further, "Michigan" (Live) Beyond Further, "Can You Make Change" (Live) Beyond Further, "Pot of Gold" (Live)
Jaded Interview by Jack Haskell. Photo by Jim Lockridge
The energy in the room ratcheted up about a hundred notches as the Rutland-based band Jaded came onto the show. The four-piece (super poppy) pop band is comprised of Chris Donahue on vocals and guitar, Chris Hill on guitar, and rhythm section brothers Billy and Timmy Wright on bass and drums respectively. Sam played three of their songs, one of which had been recorded just days before in their basement, as they took videos of the studio on their phones and told stories on and off the air. The studio was full of banter that made it feel more like a party than an interview. As the their songs played, the band would sing the choruses together and shred the solos on air guitar. Their music is just as lively as they are with driving bass and drums, distorted guitars, and catchy choruses.
Yet despite their casual demeanor on Rocket Shop, Jaded says they are very dedicated to their music and write their songs with a strong emphasis on form. "We will write three or four guitar lines for one part of the song and then choose what sounds best. We want our songs to be fluid, we spend time trying to get the parts to flow naturally together," said lead singer Chris Donahue when talking about the band's creative process. "We try to make an entire song rather than glue parts together. Sometimes we write a song in an hour and it just works. Other times we have to work on it for a while." The band says that they are constantly writing and recording new songs. They have their own recording studio.
Within the next couple months, the band has plans to pack up the gear and head to Los Angeles in hopes of playing consistent gigs and really getting their name out there. "We want to play gigs any time. All the time. We just want people to listen and hopefully like what they hear." The band is constantly writing and recording new ideas and songs. Their relentless drive to create and play will no doubt help them as they face the challenge of being a new band in a thriving music scene. When I asked if they have any day jobs lined up Billy said, "no just couches." We wish them the best out west. Find them at www.getmejaded.com, http://www.facebook.com/jadedmusic, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The'Rocket Shop' playlist: Jaded, "Candy" Jaded, "Stage 5" Jaded, "My Turn Ons"